Although the Ugly Sweater party starts at 8 p.m., it's important to offer guests a few snacks to nibble on throughout the night. The last thing you want is a drunken guest raiding your fridge or pantry. To avoid this sloppy situation, set out a variety of small appetizers that require virtually no work throughout the night.
A vegetarian garlic, eggplant, and tomato spread is delicious on crusty bread. A homemade chex-style party mix is an excellent absorber of alcohol. Since this is a tacky-chic party, make three different kinds of cheese balls. Serve with an assortment of crackers and flatbreads. If desired, supplement the menu with store bought goods like olives, dips, and vegetables.
For the recipes,
2 pounds small eggplants—peeled, quartered lengthwise, then halved crosswise
6 medium garlic cloves, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One 28-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
toasted croutons, crostini, or crackers for serving
- In a large saucepan fitted with a large steamer basket, bring 1/2 inch of water to a simmer. Add the eggplant and garlic to the steamer. Cover the saucepan and steam the eggplant over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices along with the cilantro, cumin, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Drain the steamed eggplant and garlic in a colander, pressing gently to extract any excess water.
- Transfer to a bowl and finely mash the garlic and coarsely mash the eggplant with a fork, then scrape them both into the tomato sauce.
- Add the fresh lemon juice and simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Serve the eggplant salad at room temperature or lightly chilled with croutons, crostini, or crackers for spreading.
1/2 pound cashews
1/2 pound hot roasted peanuts
2 cups pretzel nuggets
8 cups waffle cereal (such as Chex)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Creole spice
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large bowl combine nuts, pretzels and cereal.
- Melt butter with Worcestershire sauce and drizzle over nut mixture; sprinkle with Creole spice.
- Toss to coat completely, pour onto a cookie sheet and bake until crisp and tasty, about 25 minutes.
Makes about 12 cups.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
3 packages (8-ounce) cream cheese
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes hot sauce, preferable Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
8 ounces sharp orange cheddar cheese, finely shredded
2 tablespoons store-bought chutney
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
Water crackers, for serving
6 ounces Roquefort cheese
1 shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons brandy, optional
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Vegetable chips, such as Terra Chips Sweets & Beets, for serving
8 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh curly-leaf parsley
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices, for serving
- Prepare the Base Mixture: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper; mix on medium speed until combined. Divide equally among 3 medium bowls.
- Prepare the Cheddar and Cranberry Cheese Ball: stir cheddar and chutney with base mixture in the first bowl. Form into a ball. If not using immediately, refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Roll cheese balls in cranberries to coat before serving. Serve with crackers.
- Prepare the Roquefort and Walnut Cheese Ball: stir blue cheese and shallot with base mixture in second bowl; add brandy, if desired. Form into a ball. If not using immediately, refrigerate up to 3 days; freeze up to 1 month. Roll in walnuts to coat before serving. Serve with chips.
- Prepare the Goat Cheese and Scallion Cheese Ball: stir goat cheese and scallions with base mixture in remaining bowl. Form into a ball. If not using immediately, refrigerate up to 3 days to freeze up to 1 month. Roll in parsley to coat before serving. Serve with cucumber slices.
Makes three 4-inch cheese balls and serves 8 to 10.